Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire Team Up On New Roaming Services For West Africa

Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire Team Up On New Roaming Services For West Africa

Ghana through its National Communications Authority (NCA) has collaborated with Ivory Coast’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ARTCI)  to launch bilateral roaming services for the two countries.

Brand Spur Nigeria reports that the service was launched on June 14, 20,23 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire which would function under the office of Ghana’s Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation (MoCD) and the Ivorian Ministry for Communication and Digital Economy. This milestone marks the fulfillment of the recommendation made at the 18th ECOWAS meeting, where Ministers in Charge of Telecommunications, ICT, Digitalisation, and Post, require member states which have met all the required conditions to begin the ECOWAS Roaming implementation on a reciprocity basis.

The event had in attendance representatives from the MoCD, NCA, ARTC, Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy of Cote d’Ivoire, Vodafone Ghana, MTN Ghana, and West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA). Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are the first countries to launch roaming services (Voice, SMS, and Data) under the ECOWAS Roaming Regulations, this initiative was implemented in collaboration with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) of both countries which would help reduce roaming rates/charges within the two countries enhancing cross-border movement.

What Does This Mean?

With the establishment of the new bilateral service, network subscribers who travel within the two countries would be exempted from international roaming charges. In simpler terms, this means Ghanaian subscribers who travel to Cote d’Ivoire can receive calls without paying roaming charges and just pay the local rates of Cote d’Ivoire and vice versa.

This is possible because of the removal of the surcharge on incoming intra-community roaming traffic in 2019. This will lead to substantial cost savings and enhance convenience for this category of subscribers.

Kwame Baah Acheamfuor, Head of International Relations at MoCD reading the speech on behalf of Ghana’s Communications Minister, applauded the launch of the ECOWAS Free Roaming Initiative between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire as a major achievement in regional cooperation and connectivity.

He also added that the launch is consistent with the vision of a borderless Africa and emphasizes the need for robust cybersecurity measures to protect telecommunications networks. He also thanked stakeholders and urged that combined efforts be made to harness the power of connectivity for the advancement of ECOWAS and Africa.

He went further to urge the two African countries to encourage discussions with their respective remaining neighboring countries such as Togo, Burkina Faso, and Liberia, Guinea, and Mali respectively so similar programs can also be introduced among them.

Baah also requested the two countries to use the data gathered from the bilateral implementation which would assist other ECOWAS member states that intend to implement the same.

Also, Chief of Staff to the Ivorian Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Jean-Martial Adou, who read the speech for the Minister, Amadou Coulibaly, stressed that the call to a neighbneighboringouring country like Ghana should not cost more than a call to Europe for example.

Mr Coulibaly said “It is therefore imperative to find ways to reduce the cost of communications between our countries if we wish to develop the South-South cooperation dear to our governments”

He also expressed the desire that both countries develop is another reason his country was eager to welcome the collaborative initiative between Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Complimenting Ghana’s Minister for Communications and Digitalisation for leadership and commitment to development of telecommunications, Mr. Coulibaly said “We, therefore, did not hesitate to sign our agreement to initiate these exchanges, which in turn received a favorable response from the Ghanaian side”.

Deputy Director General for Technical Operations at the NCA, Prof. Ezer Osei Yeboah-Boateng, shared in his speech that the initiatives would also promote collaboration, trade, and tourism between the two countries by enhancing affordable roaming services.

Emphasizing this initiative, he added that it is the model for other ECOWAS member states, demonstrating the capacity for cooperation to create a more interconnected and prosperous region.

Following the launch of the bilateral ECOWAS Roaming Initiative, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to underpin the continued interaction between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire was signed by Prof. Ezer Osei Yeboah-Boateng (DDG-TO, NCA) and Ms. Namahoua Toure (Director General, ARTCI).

Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are confident that the successful implementation of its approach will enhance other ECOWAS member states to commit to the ECOWAS Roaming Initiative leading to better regional connectivity, trade, and tourism in West Africa.

NCA also expressed its appreciation to the MoCD for its support and direction. It also said that its doors are open for further collaboration with other member states and hope to reach more bilateral agreements will be reached with other ECOWAS member states for the benefit of the Ghanaian populace.